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Space Ship One: Scaled Composites Venture To Win The X Prize And To Put Civilians In Space

4113 words - 17 pages

ABSTRACTTitle:Scaled Composites is an aerospace innovation and development company located in the Mojave desert of California. Headed by Burt Rutan, Scaled Composites set out to become the first privatized company to obtain manned sub-orbital flight and to win the Ansari X Prize of $10 Million. To successfully win the X Prize, Scaled Composites developed two new and innovative aircraft known as White Knight and SpaceShipOne. White Knight, the carrier airplane, was to take SpaceShipOne to altitude where the spacecraft would then fire its rocket and ascend to space. On October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne successfully completed its second flight in two weeks to win the X Prize. Now, a joint effort ...view middle of the document...

In May of 2004, the X Prize for space travel was renamed the Ansari X Prize, reflecting appreciation for the very generous donation by the Ansari family (X Prize Foundation). Later in that year, on October 4, 2004, the Ansari X Prize was awarded to Mojave Aerospace Adventures, the first privatized venture to successful put a spacecraft into space. That craft was known as SpaceShipOne (Handwerk, 2004).A Challenge to Achieve is BornLegendary aviation pioneer Burt Rutan headed the Mojave Aerospace team. The financing for the project came from Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (Wade, 2008). Burt Rutan was inspired to win the X Prize and conceptual work began in 1996 because of the $10 Million dollar payoff (Foust, 2003). Rutan believed however that achievement and the winning of the X Prize meant so much more than just the money. He truly believed that a renaissance of space travel had not taken place, as had the development of aircraft. Rutan believed that space travel was primitive and underdeveloped. It was his desire to revitalize the concept of space travel and its reality that drove him to begin the conceptual design hopes of inspiring others to follow his lead. With estimated research and development costs for the completed project suspected to be around $20 Million, certainly the X Prize itself was not the motivating factor for Burt Rutan (Foust).ANALYSIS OF A PRIVATIZED SPACECRAFT DESIGNSpaceShipOne Becomes First Official Privatized SuccessOn October 4, 2004, SpaceShipOne became the world's first privately constructed, manned spacecraft to complete the third successful round-trip into space. By completing it's second successful mission within two weeks, SpaceShipOne claimed the Ansari X Prize (Harwood, 2004). Soaring to a height of over 69 miles and commanded by veteran test pilot Brian Binnie, SpaceShipOne climbed at a velocity of over 2.7 times the speed of sound. It broke the previous altitude record for an aircraft that was set back in 1963 in the X-15 (Coren, 2004).SpaceShipOne was carried to an altitude of nearly 50,000 feet by White Knight before being released to finish the ascent to history. White Knight is the vehicle designed to carry SpaceShipOne to its launch altitude. This aircraft is a turbojet aircraft designed to carry SpaceShipOne to an altitude of about 50,000 feet. At this altitude, the aircraft has reached past nearly 85% of the Earth's atmosphere (Handwerk, 2004). It is at this altitude where SpaceShipOne fires its rockets and climbs toward space at speeds reaching as high as 2,500 miles per hour. Upon reaching an altitude of roughly 62 miles above the Earth's surface, the ship coasts back down into the atmosphere where it becomes a glider upon reentry. The descent back to Earth lasts about 17 minutes from an altitude of 80,000 feet and sooner than the adventurer would like, the ride is over (Handwerk).Anatomy of a SpacecraftScaled Composites, LLC is owned by Burt Rutan and located in Mojave, California. The design...

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